In 1961, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) demolished a portion of the Melpomene neighborhood in Central City to make way for The William J. Guste, Sr. Homes, a public housing project consisting of 993 public housing units including a 12-story high-rise, a building for elderly residents, and six low-rise buildings.
The Melpomene neighborhood looked much like the rest of the Central City area, with densely packed houses, corner stores, and other small businesses. When HANO demolished those buildings to make way for the Guste Homes, much of the old building foundations and footings remained below ground.
In 2004, HANO demolished and began redeveloping the Guste Homes. In 2013, two archaeological firms conducted tests to see what was preserved in the blocks where Guste Homes once stood, revealing historical information about the Melpomene neighborhood that we wouldn’t otherwise be able to know.
In this tour, we will go back in time starting in 1964, when the Guste Homes opened, and focus on a few families who lived in the area over the previous hundred years.